When it came to making miniatures, Koerner Rombauer showed signs of genius. He was commissioned to make models of the Iron King Mine (showing both inner and outer workings,) as well as the Ajo Open-Pit Mine that was featured at the Yavapai County Fair.
But his greatest joy was spending all his extra time making toys for the children of Prescott.
Rombauer's landlord, Lee Mobley, would often help with the manufacturing. Together they made "miniature scale models of cabin cruisers, trucks, racing cars, Stanley Steamers, locomotives, steam engines, houses and animals." What made Rombauer's toys extra special was that the "motorboats really run; steam engines really steam; and whistle and conveyor belts really turn."*
"If I can see it, I can usually make it," Rombauer once said. It takes a great deal of imagination to utilize small, mundane items to create miniature reproductions. Here are some examples that Rombauer utilized:
THIS: BECAME THIS:
Toothpicks Venetian Blinds
Brass Buttons Port Holes
Flashlight Batteries Outboard Motors
Mustard Plaster Cans Smoke Stacks
Fire Extinguisher Tubes Steam Boilers
Corrugated Cardboard Tin Roofing
Some creative and helpful thoughts came from Rombauer's wife. "When 1500 straight pins needed to be cut in half, (she suggested) that the job be done with tin shears while the pins were still in the papers."
The story of how a man from Phoenix helped Prescott develop her current identity.
Rombauer was a Prescott High graduate who moved to Los Angeles in 1918. Seven years later, he began his amateur career when he produced "15 sets of manger scenes for Christmas." While in California, he made his largest miniature: a model of the Mt. Palomar Observatory for a parade float. In 1944, he moved back to Prescott.*
Later in his career, Rombauer once "tried to give one of his projects to a local resident." In giving thanks, the "recipient sent Rombauer a dollar for his services." Astounded by this, Rombauer framed the bill and hung it in his home.
It would be interesting, if any of these creations still existed, how much would they command on a collector's market? With interest high in both toys and folk-art, surely it would be far more than a dollar!
The love and joy that Rombauer and Mobley unselfishly gave to Prescott children is an example for us today.
It truly is better to give than to receive.
Do you like antiques and collectibles?
CLICK HERE for a listing of Prescott's many Antique Shops
*Prescott Evening Courier; April 10, 1950, page 2 col. 2 (top)
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